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Comment Re:Eyecandy in cost of usability (Score 1) 1124

Some line had to be drawn at which features were used most often; those that their user data said were used less frequently were the ones that were moved to other tabs (i.e, not the "Home" tab).

BTW, the "auto-fit" option is on the "Home" tab in Excel 2007; it's in the "Cells" group, under the "Format" button.

Comment Re:Eyecandy in cost of usability (Score 5, Informative) 1124

There is no "algorithm" in the ribbon, unlike in earlier (menu driven!) versions of Office.

Unlike the menus in, say, Office XP or Office 2003, where some items were "hidden" until you used them, in the ribbon EVERYTHING is there. It doesn't try to "adapt" to you. Sure, you have to re-learn where a lot of stuff is, but that was often the case before the ribbon came out as well (because more features kept getting squeezed into a menu-driven UI that just wasn't made for a program with that many options).

The only thing that changes in the ribbon are some contextual tabs that show up at the end, e.g., when you have selected a picture or a table. These tabs are meaningless normally, so they are hidden. But they don't re-arrange themselves based on your usage patterns - they are static and don't change.

Comment Re:Eyecandy in cost of usability (Score 2) 1124

Well.. yes, and no. Bob and Clippy were certainly the result of research I'm sure, but not the kind of research that went into the ribbon.

The ribbon was built using feedback from that program in Office which started in... Office XP I think ... that let you send usage data back to Microsoft. So unlike all previous versions of office, with the ribbon Microsoft actual had REAL data to go on, from a much larger sample than they ever could have put together in their UI testing labs. And that can make a really, really big difference!

Comment Re:Eyecandy in cost of usability (Score 4, Informative) 1124

The link you are probably looking for is this one:

It's a link to Jensen Harris's Office 2007 blog, where he collects all the articles he wrote about the Office 2007 UI (the "ribbon"), explains WHY it is the way it is, provides (IMHO) rather insightful comparisons against the old menu & toolbar paradigm, and generally does a good job of explaining why they chose the ribbon over the "status quo" of toolbars and menus.

That said, a ribbon-based UI is not always the answer - like toolbars and menus, it can be abused by people who don't think UI design through carefully enough, but it is a clever and intuitive answer to "option overload."

Comment Re:Angels and Demons (Score 1) 305

Every last one of you honestly believes that downloading Angels and Demons is exactly the same thing as refusing to give up your seat on a bus because of the color of your skin? Honestly? HONESTLY?

No, that's what we call an ANALOGY, or for the nitpicky among us, a SIMILE. Even though the poster did say "exactly like," its clear from context that they were not speaking literally. No need to get so worked up about it. (Unless, y'know, you enjoy getting worked up like that.)


Flash Cookies, a Little-Known Privacy Threat 225

Wiini recommends a blog posting exploring Flash cookies, a little-known threat to privacy, and how you can get control of them. 98% of browsers have Macromedia Flash Player installed, and the cookies it enables have some interesting properties. They have no expiration date; they store 100 KB of data by default, with an unlimited maximum; they can't be deleted by your browser; and they send previous visit information and history, by default, without your permission. I was amazed at some of the sites, not visited in a year or more, that still had Flash cookies on my machine. Here's the user-unfriendly GUI for deleting them, one at a time, each one requiring confirmation.

Slashdot's Disagree Mail 167

I get a lot of mail from obviously unbalanced people. Enough in fact, that I've often wondered if there was a institution that allowed their patients to only read Slashdot. We've even had a few visits from some questionable individuals. A man who tried to bribe me with a car if I let him "reverse engineer" Rob Malda's Life comes to mind. He insisted on Rob being present for the process and couldn't explain to me what it entailed, so I suggested he leave. The personal visits are rare, however, compared to the amount of mail I get. Here are a few of my favorites; let's hope these people have started to take their medication. Read below and don't be worried if you don't understand all of it.

EU Patent Staff Go On Strike 116

h4rm0ny writes "Last Friday, staff at the European Patent Office went on strike. They protested outside for several hours and issued a statement claiming that 'the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.' They also declared this as being disastrous for innovation and that their campaign was not for better wages, but for better quality patents. Meanwhile, an article on it discusses the US's own approach to dealing with the increasing flood of patent applications: a community patent project to help identify prior art. It might sound like a grass-roots scheme, and maybe it is, but those roots include such patent behemoths as IBM. So it looks like on both sides of the Atlantic, some signs of sanity might be emerging in the patent world from those people right in the thick of it." Note, this was a half-day strike, not ongoing.

LHC Success! 1007

Tomahawk writes "It worked! The LHC was turned on this morning and has been shown to have worked. Engineers cheered as the proton particles completed their first circuit of the underground ring which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). (And we're all still alive, too!)" Here is a picture from the control room which I'm sure makes sense to someone that isn't me.

Slashdot's Disagree Mail 426

Everyone likes to belong to something. Whether it be for fun, a sense of belonging, or a need for attention, a group gives you a feeling of solidarity. Surrounding yourself with people that share common goals and ideas can be comforting. Sometimes however, you realize that you hate the people you've surrounded yourself with. Your religion doesn't allow you to read anything that has profanity or you've subscribed to Slashdot thinking you could learn more about hockey. This week's collection is composed of people who don't want to play, read, or be associated with us anymore. Read below to find out how bad they want out.

Dallas Schools Extend Homework Due Dates Indefinitely 8

New classroom grading rules in Dallas are drawing fire from teachers and parents as being too lenient on lazy students. The new rules would require teachers to accept late work, give retests to students who fail and force teachers to drop homework grades that would drag down a student's class average. Nancy Bingham, a former teacher, said that she didn't think the rules would help really lazy students adding, "If the kid is hell-bent on failing, they're going to fail anyway." Dallas school superintendent Michael Hinojosa disagrees, saying, "Our mission is not to fail kids. Our mission is to make sure they get it, and we believe that effort creates ability." It's a lot easier to reach for the stars if you lower the sky.
PC Games (Games)

Referee Recommends Disbarment For Jack Thompson 280

spielermacher writes "GamePolitics is reporting that Jack Thompson — the lawyer every gamer loves to hate — has apparently lost his court case and is facing disbarment. The Referee in the case has gone beyond the Florida Bar's request for a 10-year disbarment and is recommending a lifetime ban. From the Final Report issued by the court: '... the Respondent has demonstrated a pattern of conduct to strike out harshly, extensively, repeatedly and willfully to simply try to bring as much difficulty, distraction and anguish to those he considers in opposition to his causes. He does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior ...' All I can say is that it's about time."

Submission + - Looking back on "An Inconvinient Truth" (

keithius writes: "It's been a few years now since the idea of climate change became mainstream. But are we doing enough? What else can we do? This article looks at some of the harder questions — and some of the answers that others may have overlooked:

Without change, we are going to consume more and more energy. As supply dwindles, and as demand increases, economic pressure will push us to consume every last bit of energy possible — and to hell with the consequences...
But we must change. It's not going to be painless — let's get that right out in the open right now. It's going to hurt. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. That's the way change is. And like most major paradigm-shifting changes, you can't really see how things are going to be until you're on the other side — and so will it be with this change. We don't know what the future will bring, or even what it will be like. But we know we have to make the change. Because we do know what the future will be like if we don't change.
It is not going to be easy. But it will be good.
After all, "our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.""

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